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Accident Claims for breach of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations

Employers have a legal duty to protect their workforce from the risks associated with working with potentially harmful substances. Each employer must abide by the legislation set out in the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) to ensure that risks to health are minimised.

If hazardous substances are handled in ways that do not abide by the Regulations, both short-term and long-term health implications can arise. The COSHH Regulations make it a legal requirement for employers to control, transport, store and handle such substances in specific safe ways to protect their staff and others.

If the employer fails to follow the COSHH Regulations or neglects their legal duty, and this leads to an injury or illness, a claim for compensation could be made against them.

What are hazardous substances?

Hazardous substances are any substance that can cause injury or ill health to a person. This includes:

  • Toxic substances such as cleaning products
  • Bi-product substances in the workplace such as gas, smoke, dust and fumes.

There are a number of ways in which a worker might be subjected to hazardous substances. This could include through direct handling, inhalation or ingestion. Some of the most common examples of workers coming into contact with harmful substances include:

  • Lung and respiratory disorders caused by inhalation of fumes and smoke
  • Direct contact with cleaning products and inadequate PPE provisions
  • Irritation of skin and eyes through exposure to chemicals
  • Cancers caused by contact or exposure to carcinogens
  • Lung disease caused by exposure to substances including asbestos

COSHH Employer Responsibilities

The COSHH Regulations set out each employer’s legal duty to ensure that adequate health and safety procedures are in place to maintain safety with hazardous substances. Employers must:

  • Assess risk and identify any hazardous substances that are in the workplace
  • Evaluate the risk of using specific hazardous substances in particular scenarios
  • Calculate and put in place the safety precautions that are needed
  • Give all employees adequate training on safety processes
  • Where possible, remove the risks completely or minimise risks.

How Employers Can Minimise Risk from Hazardous Substances

There are a number of ways in which employers can reduce or remove risks to employees. Exposure to hazardous substances can be minimised by:

  • Making amendments to work practices
  • Altering work procedures that result in the elimination of the need to use the hazardous substances
  • Segregating the area in which hazardous substances are kept from the rest of the working environment
  • Making sure that adequate PPE is provided including breathing apparatus and respiratory masks.

Employers are legally obliged to abide by the Control of Hazardous Substances to Health Regulations. If they breach this legislation, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are entitled to prosecute. Furthermore, if the breach results in an employee sustaining a personal injury, the employee may make a work accident compensation claim against their employer.

Which job roles are most at risk from hazardous substances?

There are certain industries and job roles which will naturally place employees at a higher risk of suffering an injury or illness from hazardous substances. Factory workers, people who work with chemicals and employees within the construction industry are some of those who are most at risk.

However, hazardous substances are not just limited to industrial work environments. People who work in offices, restaurants and warehouses may also come into contact with hazardous substances that can pose a health risk if not handled and controlled correctly.

No matter what type of environment you work in, if you have suffered an illness or injury as a result of your employer breaching their duty of care regarding the control of hazardous substances, you could be entitled to claim.

To assess your case and find out if you have a valid claim for compensation, contact our team of experienced personal injury lawyers. Our free case assessment is provided without any obligation to proceed and will only take 10 minutes in most cases.

If you are entitled to make a claim against your employer, our solicitors will be able to provide their services on a 100% no win no fee service. This means there are no upfront costs or hidden fees. If your claim is unsuccessful, you won’t pay a penny.

To get started, simply enter your contact details into the contact form below and one of our legal service advisors will call you back to discuss your claim. Alternatively you can call us free on 0800 678 1410.